Ja Morant led the way Wednesday for the Memphis Grizzlies with 38 points, eight rebounds and seven assists in a 134-124 win over the Brooklyn Nets.
Even his opponents praised the Memphis guard’s performance after the game with Nets star forward Kevin Durant, saying Morant “does things we haven’t seen before.”
“He’s a unique player,” Durant added, according to ESPN. “Lots of athleticism and creativity there. The body type reminds you of someone like – well, he’s taller than AI [Allen Iverson]but a nervous and strong player… He’s an incredible player, man.
Desmond Bane tied Morant’s game record of 38 – marking a career high – while the pair’s combined total of 76 set the record for the most by a Grizzlies duo in franchise history.
Although Durant and Kyrie Irving each scored 37 points for the Nets and Brooklyn shot 54% from the field, the Grizzlies outscored the visitors 48-27 from three-point range.
Morant, previously known for his aerial game, added consistent three-point shooting to his increasingly formidable arsenal this season and made four of his six triples against the Nets.
“The three-point line killed us,” Durant said. “The fact that they knocked down more threes than us, that’s the name of the game now. Even if you don’t play well or are not up to your opponent, if you make threes, you give it a chance.
In the first half, the Nets kept pace with the Grizzlies and even led before the break, but Memphis went on a 21-9 run in the third – outscoring the Nets by 17 in the quarter – to build a dominant lead that swelled to as much as 15 points.
Although Brooklyn rebounded slightly in the fourth quarter, the damage was already done.
The Nets threw a mini-return to come within seven of Memphis, but a huge 33-foot triple from Morant with 51 seconds remaining took the Grizzlies to 10 and locked the victory.
Morant praised fellow guard Bane after the game, saying his ability to score as well as dole out assists “is a big key to our success this year, having another guy on the pitch who can create for everyone. Tonight I thought was his best game to do both at a high level.
The victory takes the Grizzlies to 3-1 this season, while the Nets fall to 1-2.
Elsewhere in the NBA, Damian Lillard continued his strong start to the year, racking up 31 points, eight assists and six rebounds while Anfernee Simons scored 22 of his 29 points in third as the Portland Trail Blazers rallied for a solid 135-110 victory. on the visiting Denver Nuggets and two-time reigning league MVP Nikola Jokić on Monday night.
Meanwhile, James Harden had a near triple-double with 29 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds and Joel Embiid had 26 points, five rebounds and three blocks to lift the Philadelphia 76ers to their first win of the season. 120-106, against the Indiana Pacers.